Saturday, 28 March 2015

The clues are there

We are often asked by consumers to check whether something they’ve seen is a scam. Almost always it’s easy because to us the clues are obvious. They’re obvious when you’re in the business of exposing scams.

The biggest clue that it’s time to be skeptical is any offer, invitation or suggestion that appears out of the blue from a total stranger. Real business opportunities, real investments, real job offers don’t just arrive in your Inbox, as if my magic, from someone you’ve never heard of. They simply don’t.

They certainly don’t when these offers involve staggering amounts of money. The daughters of deceased West African oil tycoons don’t email total strangers offering to share their inheritance if only they can open a bank account for them to send it to. But you all know that by now.

What many people don’t seem to realize is that this isn’t how people get jobs either. We’ve had many questions from readers who have posted their CV on a job seeker’s web site and then get approached by strangers saying that they are the perfect candidate for a vacancy they’re trying to fill. Sometimes it’s a well-paid job on a cruise liner or in a hotel somewhere exotic, other times it’s a nanny or au pair job in a fabulously glamorous part of a distant city like London or New York. Every time the salary is enormous, the conditions are wonderful and the perks are astounding: free flights, up-front salary payments, vehicles, lengthy holidays and hefty bonuses.

The simple truth, the clue, is that this isn’t how recruitment works. It’s certainly not how it works for low-paid jobs like childcare and it isn’t how it works for high-paid jobs in the oil and construction industries. Above all other things the clue is that nobody is EVER offered such a job without the potential employer and the candidate meeting each other. These days the introductory interviews can be done by Skype but even with that there will always be a face-to-face meeting.

Of course these job offers are really not about the job. That’s fictitious. It’s all about the “advance fee” the fake employer or recruiter will soon demand from the victim. Sometimes it’s a “visa fee” or a fake professional licence that’s needed but that’s what the whole enterprise is about.

Other clues are certain key words and phrases. Whenever you see or hear things like “passive income” you should know that someone is about to do their best to recruit you into a Get Rich Quick scheme. I saw a post on Facebook where someone claimed he had “discovered a programme which claimed to generate a passive income with no risk and very little work”.

Here’s a suggestion about what you should do whenever you read claims like these. Ask yourself a simple question. How does the person posting the message gain from telling you about this scheme? Surely if he or she has discovered a wonderful way of making money they should just use the scheme themselves? Why do they want to recruit other people into the scheme? Is it perhaps because the way to make money from the scheme is actually to recruit other people rather than actually selling any products?

That’s what they won’t tell you. Recruiting you and persuading you to recruit other people beneath you is how people in the pyramid try to make money. What they also won’t tell you is that the only people who actually make money are the people at the top of the pyramid, not the mere mortals at the bottom who pay to join the scheme.

That’s certainly the case for true pyramid schemes and it’s also true, to some extent, for their less disreputable cousins, multi-level marketing schemes. Even though MLMs involve selling products they frequently present their new recruits with a very different picture. They talk about lifestyle opportunities, holidays and riches but they neglect to mention the fact that the vast majority of recruits either make no profit from joining the scheme or they actually make a loss. In case you’re skeptical, I’m not making that up. Those are facts from the biggest MLM schemes in the world, Amway and Herbalife, who are both obliged to disclose their recruit’s earnings every year. Their own figures show that people don’t make money from joining them.

Here’s another clue word. Whenever you hear the word “quantum” from someone trying to sell you something you should be prepared to hear utter nonsense. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ridiculous health product like the “QXCI” or “SCIO” device that its proponents claim cures all manner of diseases. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone trying to sell you life skills or personal development. The moment you hear someone saying that quantum physics has some relevance for your everyday life you should walk away and, whatever you do, don’t hand over any money.

In May this year we’ll be welcoming Dr John Demartini back to Botswana for another “Leadership Conference”. Here’s a quote from the Doctor’s web site:
“Your brain acts as a love-seeking, balance-seeking, quest-ion dissolving organ. Your genetic code assists your brain in its search to elevate your consciousness awareness quantum by quantum.”
If that’s a sign of his thinking, what do you think he, or anyone else with such a slim grasp on science can teach us about leadership? It’ll probably be just more quantum hogwash.

The clues that someone wants to abuse you are out there if you’ll just look for them. So please keep your eyes open and always be on guard.

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